Stranded Migrants, Students, Tourists Can Go Home During COVID Lockdown

By SM.29 Apr, 2020




NEW DELHI: Migrant labourers who do not have symptoms of coronavirus can return to their home states now, the Centre has said, issuing a set of guidelines nearly five weeks after the lockdown was announced, leaving thousands stranded across the country. The order comes a day after the Centre was asked to respond to issue by the Supreme Court, which was hearing a set of petitions asking that migrants who do not have COVID-19 be allowed to go home. The Centre"s lockdown guidelines -- which asked required states to stop movement of movement of migrants across the borders -- have been questioned by states like Bihar and Jharkhand after it gave clearance to Uttar Pradesh last week to move its labourers stranded in Haryana.

In its order, the home ministry asked the states to appoint nodal bodies and draw up protocols for the migrants" movement.

"The moving person(s) would be screened and those found asymptomatic would be allowed to proceed," the government said.

Buses will be allowed for the interstate movement of the people and they should be sanitised between trips, the order read.

The order comes less than a week before the lockdown is scheduled to end. Several states, including Punjab and Bengal, have said they need to extend the lockdown in their states.

Two days ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a fourth video-conference with the Chief Ministers, where an exit plan from the lockdown was discussed.

The same day, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that it was "very much concerned" about the migrant labourers. "The government is consulting with the states on how many have to be transported to their states and how many have to be given help and what kind… We are taking all kind of steps," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said

The court had asked the Centre to respond within a week on whether migrant labourers who have tested negative for coronavirus can be sent home.

The lockdown was announced by Prime Ministe Narendra Modi on March 25, leaving thousands of migrant labourers across the country stranded and vulnerable. With jobs and in many cases, shelters gone, thousands tried to make their way home on foot.

Some did not make it, collapsing hours away from home after the hard trek, often without enough food or water.

As the movement from cities to villages turned into an exodus, throwing to the wind all rules of social distancing, the government asked the states to seal borders and keep those who broke lockdown in 14-day compulsory quarantine.